Young athletes need to consume adequate calories to support the energy demands of growth and athletic activities.(1) They are encouraged to consume ample amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat from a wide variety of whole, minimally processed, and nutrient-replete food sources to enhance overall health as well as sports performance. We are often asked how and if young athletes may incorporate our products into their sports nutrition plan. There are three key areas where GU products may prove most beneficial: Hydration, Energy, and Recovery. We submit the following guidelines for parents of young athletes (6-17 years of age) when choosing GU products.
1. DO encourage hydration.
Many young athletes don’t recognize and/or ignore internal thirst cues that may be a sign of dehydration. Even mild dehydration can decrease athletic performance, diminish energy levels and strength, and lead to more serious heat-related illnesses. Therefore, it is important to start exercise in a euhydrated (normal hydration status) state. Before activity, athletes should consume 400 to 600 ml water 2 h to 3 h before their event. Encourage athletes to drink 150-250 ml fluids every 15-20 minutes during activity. Adding flavour and electrolytes to plain water can enhance palatability and encourage drinking, thus promoting optimal hydration before, during, and after physical activity. After activity, athletes should consume adequate fluids to replace losses from sweat, approximately 1.5 L per kilogram bodyweight lost. The consumption of sodium-containing fluids and snacks after exercise helps with rehydration by stimulating thirst and fluid retention.(2)
Why: Our Hydration Drink Tabs replenish sodium (320 mg), the primary electrolyte lost in sweat, contain only 10 calories, and no artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners. The lightly flavoured, effervescent drink tabs may be used before, during, and/or after exercise to maintain optimal fluid and electrolyte balance.
When: Before, during and/or after exercise lasting 60 minutes or less in duration.
How: Dissolve 1 tab in 500 ml water.
2. DO encourage energy (carbohydrate) replenishment during prolonged activity.
Children and adolescents have lower body stores of glycogen (carbohydrate) than adults owing to their smaller body size, hence they tend to deplete these limited stores more rapidly.(3) Carbohydrate replenishment during prolonged activity lasting longer than 60-90 minutes in duration supports energy needs and can delay the onset of fatigue.(4) The strategic use of sports nutrition products (drinks, gels, and chews/bars) during training and competition can beneficially promote performance in young athletes, similar to adults. When used appropriately, these forms of refined carbohydrates deliver an energy boost without slowing down digestion or causing upset stomach.(5)
Why: Our Energy Drink Mix replenishes sodium (250-500 mg), the primary electrolyte lost in sweat, contains 100 calories from easy to digest carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose), and no artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners. It is formulated to be hypotonic (less concentrated), which speeds gastric emptying and absorption while diminishing the risk of upset stomach. The drink mix may be used before, during, and/or after prolonged exercise to maintain optimal fluid and electrolyte balance, while also providing energy to fuel athletic activity.
When: Before, during, and/or after exercise lasting 60-90 minutes or more in duration.
How: Mix one serving (2 scoops) in ~500 ml water, stir or shake to dissolve completely.
Why: GU Energy Chews provide energy from easy to digest carbohydrates, electrolytes (sodium) to support hydration, and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) to promote muscle health. The bite-sized gummy chews are an enjoyable way to stay fueled during prolonged activity or between matches on tournament days.
When: During prolonged activity lasting longer than 60 minutes, or between matches on tournament days.
How: Consume one serving (4 chews) at rest breaks (e.g., halftime, quarter) during prolonged activity, or between matches.
Why: GU Energy Gels provide energy from easy to digest carbohydrates, electrolytes (sodium) to support hydration, and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) to promote muscle health. The portable and fast-acting gels are an easy way to stay fueled on-the-go during prolonged activity.
When: Before and/or during prolonged activity lasting longer than 60-90 minutes.
How: Consume one gel 15 minutes before, and an additional gel per hour for activity lasting longer than 60-90 minutes. Consume 200-400 ml fluid with each gel to ensure proper absorption.
Why: GU Energy Stroopwafels provide a great-tasting, portable energy snack containing easy to digest carbohydrates, electrolytes (sodium), and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) to promote muscle health. They are a suitable option for a light pre-event snack or may be eaten between matches on tournament days.
When: Before activity, between matches on tournament days.
How: Consume one Stroopwafel 30-60 minutes before event or between matches on tournament days.
3. DO encourage recovery nutrition after prolonged physical activity.
Active bodies need to replenish what they’ve depleted through physical activity: carbohydrates to replace muscle and liver glycogen stores, lean protein to rebuild muscle tissue, and fluid and electrolytes to replace sweat losses. Ideally, these nutrients should be replaced within 30 minutes of intense or prolonged activity, and again 1-2 hours later.(6,7) This can be accomplished with a variety of healthy snacks that pair protein and carbohydrate sources along with ample fluids (1.5 L per kg body weight lost through sweat). Specially formulated sports nutrition recovery products “check all the boxes” and simplify the recovery process for busy young athletes (and their families!) on the road or with limited time between training sessions.
Why: Protein (derived from milk) and carbohydrates (from dextrose) replenish depleted muscles and provide rapid refuelling of key nutrients along with sodium and fluid to aid rehydration. Particularly if between matches on a tournament day or when recovery window is limited (i.e., less than 12 hours) before next practice/competition.
When: As soon as possible (ideally within 30 minutes) after finishing activity lasting longer than 60-90 minutes.
How: Mix one serving (1 scoop or packet) with 8-12 ounces cold water, milk or non-dairy alternative. Shake or stir vigorously to mix.
Young athletes have heightened nutrition needs and require appropriate fueling and hydration strategies to keep them performing at their best. Responsible provision of GU Energy products can facilitate this process and provide a convenient, delicious, and efficient way to deliver hydration, energy, and recovery nutrition before, during, and after activity. Keep in mind, caffeinated products are never recommended for young athletes, and parental supervision is always advised.
1. Hoch AZ, Goossen K, Kretschmer T. Nutritional requirements of the child and teenage athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 2008;19(2):373-98.
2. Purcell LK. Sport nutrition for young athletes. Paediatrics & child health. 2013 Apr 1;18(4):200-2.
3. Meyer F, O'Connor H, Shirreffs SM. Nutrition for the young athlete. Journal of sports sciences. 2007 Dec 1;25(S1): S73-82.
4. Montfort-Steiger V, Williams CA. Carbohydrate intake considerations for young athletes. Journal of sports science & medicine. 2007 Sep;6(3):343.
5. Jeukendrup A, Cronin L. Nutrition and elite young athletes. In The Elite Young Athlete 2011 (Vol. 56, pp. 47-58). Karger Publishers.
6. KidsHealth (Nemours), Feeding your child athlete. Retrieved from:
7. Castle, J. 8 Gameday Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes. Retrieved from: